It’s OK to cheat…

Why you should plan for “treat meals” into your meal planning

For most people, eating a healthy, clean diet every day is an unrealistic goal.

As you incorporate more fresh, healthy foods into your diet, you’ll find that you’ll have days where you are satisfied with your oats and fresh fruit; nuts and lean protein with loads of veggies.  BUT, some days, your body craves carbohydrates, sugar or fats.

Well, I have good news for you – having these “treats” is an essential part of maintaining a healthy diet.

Why, you ask? (whilst cheering on the inside)

Your body’s reaction:

Treat meals work best when you plan your meals and factor them in.  If you are trying to lose weight and have a few days of limited calorie intake, this splurge meal can:

  • boost your metabolism (added calorie burning)
  • shock your system to get you past weight-loss plateaus
  • replenish glycogen levels in your body. This increases energy levels so you’re ready to smash out a great workout
  • help maintain your hormones at a healthy level (eg leptin which regulates appetite and energy).

If you consistently deprive your body of calories, your energy levels will drop leaving you lethargic.  This can impact the effectiveness of your workouts as well as your ability to stick with the diet.  By factoring in treat meals (think 1, maybe 2 a week), you’ll boost your energy and increase your chances of sticking with your healthy eating patterns the rest of the time.

Your minds’ reaction

  • By allowing yourself a cheat meal, you’re giving yourself permission to indulge without feeling guilty for breaking your diet.  
    Whilst there won’t be any calorie difference between a schedule treat meal and an accidental indulgence, the difference is in how you feel.  
    If you feel you’ve cheated, you may feel guilty (a wasted emotion) and you may throw in the towel and eat treats the whole day (“well, I’ve failed now, so I might as well give up”- sound familiar?)
  • Satisfying your cravings gives you a psychological break from your controlled meal plan.
    For any “diet” to work, it needs to become a long-term habit, so including these treat meals, makes your diet more realistic and sustainable.
  • They can be motivating! You’ll satisfy your cravings and you might even find the treat isn’t quite as yummy as you remember (that’s your taste buds adjusting to healthier foods).  Knowing you have a treat meal coming up can make it easier to stick to your diet the rest of the time.

Here’s how you include treats without wrecking your diet

  • Plan!: Choose when and what you’re going to eat. Stick to just one treat meal per week and focus on not going overboard.  Put it in your diary so you know when it’s coming and start thinking in advance about what you’d like to enjoy- perhaps a bowl of your favourite pasta, a delicious cheese or a decadent dessert? But just pick one – it’s not an excuse to opt for both!
  • Earn it:  To minimise fat gains from your treat meal, it’s a good idea to deplete your glycogen stores beforehand.  The body won’t store carbohydrates as body fat until it’s glycogen reserves are full, so the emptier the tank, the more room for that treat.  Pick your fav tunes and your toughest workout and SMASH it!  Think HIIT circuit – full of high-rep, full body movements.
  • Be cheat smart:  Not all treat meals are created equal.  Aim to pick a meal that still has some nutritional value. Despite having a higher calorie count, ensure you’re still choosing a dish rich in complex carbohydrates and proteins.  As your taste buds adjust to a cleaner, fresher daily menu, you might even find that the meal you have been craving doesn’t taste quite so satisfying anymore making it easier to be cheat-smart.
  • Get back on track:   Make the most of your delicious treat – savour each mouthful and acknowledge that it’s an occasional event.  This will help you get the maximum-yum out of it.  Then, put it aside and get back on the healthy eating bandwagon.  Having your next meals prepped can help you get back to your usual routine.  For added benefit, smash out another sweaty exercise session and you’re all set!

If you need any guidance with meal planning give me a call - 0403 335 950.  I would love to help you

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